This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

7 Tesla Functional Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Analysis of Pain Processing in Humans




Nichols, Steven

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Psychological Sciences


Globally, one in five people will experience some form of chronic pain in their life. In the United States, an estimated 50 million people manage chronic pain daily, nearly 20 million of which are categorized as high-impact chronic pain. Unfortunately, our understanding of the basic physiological aspects of pain is limited yet necessary to advance our understanding of pain processes as well as develop effective therapeutic interventions. Previous neuroimaging research has identified a network of interrelated brain regions that seem to be implicated in the processing and experience of pain. Among these, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) plays an important role in the affective experience of pain signals. The current study leveraged functional magnetic resonance spectroscopy (fMRS), a robust and sensitive measurement of neurometabolites, to investigate the underlying dynamic shifts in the neurometabolic signature of the human ACC at rest and during acute pain. Results provide support for increased glutamate levels following acute pain administration. Specifically, a 4.6% increase in glutamate was observed during moderate pressure pain compared to baseline. These data contribute toward the characterization of neurometabolic shifts which lend insight to the role of the ACC in the pain network. Further research in this area with larger sample sizes could contribute to the development of novel therapeutics or other advances in pain-related outcomes.